Iconic of World War Two’s Pacific War and one of the best known fighter planes in history, Imperial Japan’s Mitsubishi A6M Zero earned such a reputation that the moniker Zero became synonymous with Japanese WW2 warplanes. As aesthetically captivating as martially effective, confidence in the Zero’s performance was a factor in Imperial Japan’s decision to expanded its war of conquest.
Beginning with an introduction, short autobiography and historical overview of the A6M Rei Shiki Sento Ki (“Type Zero Fighter“, or Reisen), biology teacher Brian Criner provides us with 80 pages of well written articles about modeling Zeros amply illustrated with 213 bright color photographs, plus four profiles by Thierry Dekker. The photographs are sharp and well composed. Fortified with photographs of real Zeros in museums and under restoration, the book includes other excellent features for the modeler and historian. Functionality of the book is enhanced with: • chart of color samples • a color matrix • recommended modeling tools • an extensive chart of kits and accessories listed by scale, manufacturer and model number • Zero walkaround section • reference page.
Mr. Criner is a modeler and enriches his narrative with anecdotes about his modeling mistakes and trials. One example is a 1/72 resin cockpit set that arrived with a 1/35 tanker’s head instead of the pilot seat! He includes interesting and controversial "intel" about the Zero, discussing how nearly all Zeros were primed in the factory with red-oxide, thus Zeros did not become mangy by shedding paint as did so many Imperial Japanese warplanes. I found of particular interest his comment that A6M2s of the Pearl Harbor attack had their aileron mass balances painted red, and that curious circle near the 20mm access panels is not a filler cap but rather a round window for armorers to inspect the ammo supply. Additionally, his photos show Aotake and other original paint, examples both weathered and protected from the elements.
He demonstrates pre-shading the panel lines as well as post-tinting the panels, yet cautions that many modelers over accentuate these effects, resulting in a quilted look. Utilizing his paint mixtures, Mr. Criner displays one of his models setting upon an original A6M3 to demonstrate the excellent match of his paint to the original. Nice touch!
Four kits are demonstrated by the author, with several other examples in a gallery, including Mr. Derek Brown’s venerable heavily reworked 1/72 Model 21 with scratchbuilt Sakae 12. Mr. Criner features his 1/48 A6M2-N Rufe, 1/72 A6M5c, a 1/48 Pearl Harbor attack A6M2 and Tamiya’s 1/32 A6M5b. Each article is prefaced with a table listing the subject, modeler, skill level of kit, after-market parts used, decals and paints used. The Tamiya Zero is particularly fascinating as he builds it a captured plane being evaluated by TAIC (Technical Air Intelligence Center) in a natural metal finish; extensively embellished not only with aftermarket parts, he also scalloped the rivet lines to simulate the metal structure of the aircraft! This model also provides a venue to mention understandable mistake model companies have made with the Zero cockpit, as their source Zekes and Zeros were captured planes modified with some western equipment. These articles demonstrate a variety of weathering techniques.
My complaint is that photographs of Zero engines and weapons are absent. Perhaps the editors feel what space is available should include unique photos of components overlooked by all but detail oriented modelers, but a shot or two of a real Sakae and machine guns and cannon would be useful.
Modelers of Zeros and other Imperial Japanese aircraft will be pleased with this book.
I am grateful to those who made it possible for me to review this book, and to the wonderful people at Osprey for their permission to use their images.
Osprey’s Modelling Series is an expanding and wonderfully beneficial resource for modelers and historians alike. I am thrilled the Zero has its own book, and I look forward to utilizing the many new ideas this book so ably demonstrates. I am certain all modelers of the A6M Reisen in particular, and Imperial Japanese air enthusiasts in general will find this book a great value.
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR) FROM: TENNESSEE, UNITED STATES
I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art.
My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling!
My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...